Katia Kameli “Ya Rayi” at Passerelle Centre d’art contemporain, Brest
Ya Rayi is a reflection on the evolution of raï, a popular Algerian music that embodied the need for expressing the difficult living conditions and taboos in Algeria. In Arabic, raï means ‘opinion’. Through its music and textual créolité (creolity), rai is mirroring Algerian culture. It is an underground genre which has changed and mixed codes from different existing repertoires to bypass social restrictions and make what is muted heard. It is a substitute for the lack of interactions between women and men, between older and younger generations in a society silenced by morality. Questioning rai from yesterday and today is opening a reflection on what is culturally and sociably at stake in Algeria but also in contemporary Muslim society.
The protagonist is a young man with a Walkman listening to rai tapes. He is wandering, stopping by in front of Disco Maghreb shop in Oran, the historical producer of cheb and cheba. In Paris, he is idling in Barbès neighbourhood, a crucial part in rai development in the 1990s. The faint faces of rai stars Cheb Hasni and Cheikha Rimiti which appear throughout the video on old buildings evoke another temporality. However, rai tapes are still an object of desire, sold and collected in very few shops known by regular visitors. Here, rai music is a ghost, a nostalgic memory, but passion is never far: rewind, press ‘play’ and it starts all over again.
at Passerelle Centre d’art contemporain, Brest
until 5 January 2019